2008 Toyota International Media Reception at the NAIAS

January 13, 2008
Toyota International Media Reception, 2008 NAIAS Detroit
Sunday, January 13, 2008, 6:30 P.M.
Riverview Ballroom, Cobo Center
 
Katsuaki Watanabe - TMC President
Jim Lentz - TMS President
 
-- PRESIDENT WATANABE --
 
Last year, as never before, industry and government and mainstream consumers came to grips with the need to address global climate change. I believe we will all remember 2007 as the year that the world responded to a wake-up call too long ignored.
 
Toyota has long promoted an environmental vision that we refer to simply as Sustainable Mobility. Sustainable mobility recognizes that a wide variety of advanced technologies will be part of our future. But only if these technologies can appeal to, and reach, the mass market.
 
Sustainable Mobility addresses four key priorities. First, we must address the vehicles themselves and the advanced technologies. Highly advanced conventional engines, plug-in hybrids, fuel cells and clean diesels, as well as many other innovative new technologies, will all play a part.
 
Second, we must address the urban environment, where these new technologies will live. In the future, we foresee "mixed mobility," combining intelligent highways and mass-transit, bike paths and short-cut walking routes, recharging kiosks and hydrogen fuel stations.
 
Third, we must address the need for partnerships between energy and transportation along with government and academia to bring new technologies to market.
 
Finally, we must address the energy challenges surrounding the use of advanced vehicles. Is the power grid we use produced by coal…or wind?
 
Can a hydrogen re-fueling system be created?
 
What makes Toyota's vision of sustainable mobility unique is the variety of avenues we are pursuing. And that we are committed to developing everything completely in-house because it is faster and more efficient. We know there is not just one solution, but many. Let me give you an example of how one project can employ all four aspects of sustainable mobility.
 
Last November, we delivered the first-two Prius plug-in hybrids to the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Irvine. They will evaluate the everyday uses of plug-in technology from the consumer's point of view. They will investigate how the urban environment should be designed to accommodate plug-in requirements.
 
They will explore the energy issues related to the production of electricity that will charge the vehicles. And, they will play a big role in public/private partnerships critical for success of the program.
 
At Toyota, we are working hard to improve in all four areas of sustainable mobility. In fact, on average, we spend nearly one million dollars per hour on R&D alone to develop cars and technologies of the future. So far, the results have been significant.
 
In 10 years, we have sold 1.25 million hybrids globally and nearly 750 thousand in North America in less than eight years. Last year, we sold more than a quarter-million hybrids in the U.S. alone. And we intend to do it again this year. Looking ahead, you can expect us to put the full force of our resources behind our sustainable mobility mission.
 
Last month, the U.S. congress agreed on an energy bill calling for a 35-mpg CAFE by 2020. Toyota strongly supports this long, overdue legislation.
 
However, as always, we will not wait until the deadline to comply. I have issued a challenge to our engineers to meet the new standard well in advance of 2020.
 
I believe it can be done, it should be done, and that Toyota is capable of doing it.
 
Here are some of the things we will do to accomplish that goal.
 
First, I am happy to confirm that a new clean-diesel V8 engine will be offered in both the Tundra and Sequoia in the near future.
 
In the area of energy research, our in-house, biotech engineers are developing cleaner and more efficient methods of producing ethanol from wood-waste rather than food crops.
 
By 2010, we will accelerate our global plug-in hybrid R&D program. As part of this plan, we will deliver a significant fleet of PHEVs powered by lithium-ion batteries to a wide variety of global commercial customers, with many coming to the U.S.
 
To make that happen, we have already started the planning phase to expand our Panasonic joint-venture battery factory. The expansion will add an assembly line to build lithium batteries for automotive applications.
 
My final point is a personal invitation to you. Next year, here in Detroit, we will expand our conventional hybrid line-up by staging world premieres of two all-new, dedicated hybrids, one for Toyota and one for Lexus.
 
These two introductions will move us closer to our goal of selling a million hybrids per year in the next decade. I plan to be here and I hope to see you then, as well. Thank you for allowing me to share Toyota's vision of Sustainable Mobility.
 
I look forward to seeing you tomorrow at the Venza press conference. I wish you all a healthy, prosperous year.
 
-- JIM LENTZ --
 
Good evening, ladies and gentleman. You know, it's never a good idea to follow the president of the company on stage at a media event, especially considering how much news he had in his bag to share with you tonight.
 
I won't try to top the newsworthiness of what Mr. Watanabe had to say tonight.
 
It wouldn't be a good career move. But I think you will find that the vehicle we have to show you this evening is of more-than-passing interest.
 
Much like how we approached the FJ Cruiser concept a few years ago, this concept re-examines Toyota's distinctive truck heritage. The Toyota compact pickup introduced America to the notion that smaller could actually be better, that fuel efficiency was a virtue, and that quality, reliability and durability could be affordable.
 
As we all know, the compact pickup truck segment is no longer compact.
 
Instead, we have seen every-entry, including our-own, grow significantly in size, power, and capability. The TMS Advanced Product Group and our Calty Design center felt it was time for a change in priorities.
 
Begin with a platform that's two feet shorter than Tacoma, yet carries a four-by-eight sheet of plywood. Add Toyota's most-advance Hybrid Synergy Drive system, then wrap it all up in a buffed-up, aerodynamic package. What have you got? The Advanced-Breakthrough Aerodynamic Truck. We call it the Toyota A-BAT.
 
-- REVEAL --
 
A-BAT is a completely fresh take on a concept whose time has come again. Its compact size makes it an excellent commuter and nimble for maneuvering in metro areas. It provides buyers with all the benefits of a full-hybrid powertrain with remarkable functionality at an affordable price.
 
We see it as the perfect vehicle for consumers who need the capability and utility of a small pickup, but aren't ready for a Tacoma. These customers haul intermittently, but don't need to tow. They have active outdoor lifestyles and live on the outskirts of urban sprawl, often resulting in long daily commutes and weekend getaways.
 
They accumulate high annual mileage, so fuel economy and ride comfort are priorities. And like other mainstream buyers, they are well aware of the benefits of hybrid technology.
 
Our Calty designers created a modern truck influenced by the phrases, "small but tough," "aero and efficient," and "solid and sheer." Look closely and you'll see current Toyota-truck styling cues: The trapezoidal grille, boxed wheel openings, bold and defined sections, and powerful stance.
 
A-BAT offers surprising versatility and comfort for its size, carrying four passengers comfortably or providing expansive truck cargo capability. With the midgate up, the bed can carry a four-foot by four-foot load and seating for four adults.
 
With the midgate down and the second row seats folded forward, A-BAT carries a four-foot by six-foot load, the same as a long bed Tacoma. Drop the tailgate and A-BAT will handle a full four-by-eight sheet of plywood.
 
The A-BAT features large drawers in the bed wall. These drawers are easily accessible through sliding wall doors on the bed exterior. An under-bed storage drawer is also accessible when the vehicle has a full bed of cargo.
 
Inside, the A-BAT features a rugged, yet sculpted interior for four passengers where unique features abound. A solar energy panel on the dash captures energy to assist in powering interior accessories and instrument displays.
 
A removable portable power stack is located in the center console and can provide auxiliary power for small tools and recreational toys.
 
We feel the A-BAT has a lot of promise. We will closely gauge consumer reactions at major auto shows and look forward to your feedback. In fact, we are pleased to have with us tonight the A-BAT design team from Calty. I'm sure they will be happy to tell you more about the A-BAT and answer any questions you may have.
 
So please feel free to join us on stage for a closer look. Thanks for joining us tonight. And we'll see you all tomorrow for the world premiere of Venza.
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